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Bye Bye Canuckleheads!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

In this town, this is quite an admission: I am not a Canucks fan. I suppose I was once, when I knew of no other team.

But I guess they were the local club I rooted for until about 2000 when I took my dad to a Canucks / Flames game at GM Place. The tickets cost me about a full-week’s salary- about 1/52 of my entire year’s income. We sat a few rows back from the ice, behind the net so the seats weren’t even the best in the house.

This exorbitant price was what I paid for the privilege to watch a bunch of millionaires skate. That’s all they did. It wasn’t merely disappointing; it was infuriatingly appalling. Anytime the puck got close to a Vancouver Canuck, he simply batted the offending puck out of the way. Now at exactly the same time, on exactly the same sheet of ice, the Calgary Flames did what they came to do. They played hockey. Not surprisingly, Calgary won the game, 8-1.

I may not be an avid Canucks fan- you could even say I am as much an expert in hockey as I am in nuclear physics- but my opinions on this most important Vancouver issue have, to date, stood the test of time. The rest of this entry is what I believe is so wrong with the Canucks.

Most recently, Vancouver has not been able to break into the finals or even semi-finals because of three things.

First, the Vancouver Canucks play with no heart. The entire enterprise is set up to make money- who cares about the hockey, really? Given the number of times the franchise has changed its colours and logo in recent years, I would suggest that the organization makes almost as much money selling official merchandise as it does selling tickets.

Their on-ice performance that fateful day in 2000 was representative of their spotty drive to win. Their last game this past week was yet another example of lacklustre heart. Why does this happen? Are our “stars” afraid of breaking a fingernail? Or do they all suffer from collective depression?

Second, Vancouver suffers from the “Magic Bullet” Principle. Dating back over 10 years, that’s 10 long, losing, seasons, Canucks fans have oogled over one super-star followed by another- each being the solution to the team’s woes. “Yeah, the last star we imported was a prima-donna dud, but this guy, he’s going to get the Canucks into the finals!”

First it was Pavel Bure. Then it was Marc Messier. How about the Sedin twins? And most recently it was Robert Luongo. Even Todd Burtuzzi, convicted thug that he was, was a ‘star’ in this perennial parade of pathetic performers. What about good old-fashioned team effort and grunt?

Finally, and most damning, it seems that the Canucks suffer from Springtime Golf Syndrome. While I don’t know for certain, I would suggest that as the fairways dry out, our boys of ice head to the putting greens and driving ranges. They get distracted. Little white balls and warm sunny days start to lure them from the cold ice and the disciplined humdrum of hockey practice.

While this year was slightly different in that there was no big break between their play-off rounds which always seem to do them in, the time of year is not a coincidence. But for the future, this last concern could be eliminated if they ‘rest’ between rounds in Yellowknife- or better yet- Inuvik.

So even when they- should they- ever win the Stanley Cup, I am completely convinced that it will be a total fluke unless they have overcome these three crucial yet basic criticisms.

But good luck on that one.

With rabid fans so willing to support such incredible mediocrity and a management team willing to sign ‘magic bullets’ into contracts that will ensure the player’s great-great-great grandchildren can afford Ferraris they day they turn 16, somehow I think I’ll be six feet under long before they get their act together.

As an aside, the Vancouver Giants is still my preferred local team. In five seriously important key categories: Grunt, Heart, Guts, Consistency, and a Ticket-Price-That-I-Can-Afford, they are a much superior team to the Canucks. Speaking of whom, did I mention consistency?

As for the Stanley Cup in 2010…. OK- Let’s Go les Habs! Play like the winners you are. Show our Canucklehead players- and fans- how it’s done.

On Vancouver’s Streets

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

BC Hydro's Vandalism at Richards & Dunsmuir

BC Hydro's Vandalism at Richards & Dunsmuir

In my line of work, I come across a lot of road-works. Truthfully, they are the bane of my existence at work. The extensive road closures and worse, the delays in traffic that are associated with them cause so much aggravation to so many people.

Although road-works are road-works no matter where you are in this world, I have a few opinions regarding how Vancouver manages it’s public works and I am more than happy to share those in the future.

But today, I’d like to speak about the other organizations that dig into our city streets, do their thing, and then fill in the holes.

I’m speaking of the likes of BC Hydro, Terasen Gas, and Telus, and the Metro Vancouver Water District to name just four but I’m sure there are more, given all the other utility-like works that go on.

Why is it that when they finish their work, their road patch is of such poor quality? More to the point, why does the city allow them to do such a bad patch-job?

As I see it, taxpayers paid a lot of money to have the road built and maintained by the city. Too much, even. But then along comes some utility who digs it up, roots around in the hole they made, fills it in, pats a little asphalt down over the top and calls it a day. When they’re done, the finished road surface looks (and feels) like a pothole in reverse! There is not the slightest attempt to smooth the patch out. No matter the utility, the location, or the time of year!

Never mind that there are concrete curbs, concrete sidewalks, and concrete bus-stop pads and areas of brick and cobblestones. It seems that a bad paving-job is good enough for these utilities- as well as the city- which is responsible for the roads in the first place.

In the middle of a concrete curb, the replacement asphalt is ‘moulded’ to resemble the curb. In the middle of ornate brickwork, you’ll find a mounded slab of asphalt. And in the middle of the smoothest pavement in the middle of the street, you’ll find a whacking huge lump that passes for a ‘patch’.

When these guys are finished with our roads, their handy work is so shoddy, so haphazard, it’s plain that they don’t care about the road surface at all. The work is so bad, it’s sure to cause motorists to fear for the well-being of their cars’ suspension systems. Pedestrians must navigate serious tripping hazards. It’s so cheap. And it’s so unnecessary.

When the city digs into a street to fix a sewer pipe, once they’re done, they replace the street’s foundation, tamp it down, put down an underlay of asphalt, and then do a final paving so that the patch blends exactly in with the road surface around it. They pay similar attention to concrete and bricklaying. They may be slow but city’s Street Operations folk do excellent work.

I certain that if a lamp-post is destroyed in a car accident, ICBC pays for it’s replacement. So why is it any different when there’s pre-meditated vandalism on our road surfaces?

This is one way to improve the condition of our streets over time that won’t cost the taxpayer a single dime. Whoever digs the street up, can do what’s necessary to repair the damage; to put it back to the condition it was in before they started their digging.

Our streets have value. It’s time for them to be protected. It’s time for Vancouver to establish and enforce standards on these digger-happy agencies. How the city itself repairs its streets, should be the standard.


Hedy’s at it… again

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Hedy4OntarioIt’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. Today’s going to be different because something caught my eye on my way past the mail box I thought I’d share with you.

Hedy Fry, our Dragon-slayer MP here in Vancouver-Centre (BC), has just mailed out her semi-annual horn-tooting blurb. No surprise there, all MPs can and do. It’s just that hers is, well, unique. Individual. (Read….”Unaligned”).

This newsletter from our Paul Martin lovin’, Liberal-flag wavin’, Queen of Denman Street MP, is completely devoid of anything “Liberal”. Clearly, she must see the party itself as a liability (as would I) given the machinations that are going on right now at Stornaway.

And then, while visiting her website for more ‘updates’, I came across this little gem: a little YouTube video, that was produced on Parliament Hill showing the Honourable member to be from… Ontario! The team support is apalling. Who produced this joke?

It’s 30 seconds long and with all the media brain-power at their disposal on Parliament Hill how could they possibly screw up like this?! Couldn’t someone have said, “Wait, Hedy, you need to do this again…. you blew the opening!”

Every Hour on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh… Day of the Eleventh Month….

Every Hour on the Eleventh Hour….. Oops… Take Two! What happened to the days when she had a proud British Columbian Liberal-Flag wavin’ machine? Or is there something about the competence of the Liberals to effect real opposition? Where is the depth of the party to ensure it can sell lemonade on election day never mind a government? Is this one time we should follow Hedy and step back from the edge of a very deep, collapsing Liberal hole?



Robertson makes Vancouver a Happy Planet

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Vision Vancouver Mayor-electAfter the most despicable civil election campaign season in Vancouver’s history, it looks like Gregor Robertson is going to be our new mayor and starting tomorrow he is going to have his work cut out for him.

The first item on his agenda will be to find a way to douse the open flames that are burning both on the deck of his ship, Vision Vancouver, as well as on the deck of his rival, the Non-Partisan Association.

Accusations have been flying between Vision Vancouver and the NPA over the hundred million dollar loan guarantee. First it was about whether it was appropriate to keep the deal behind closed doors. Then it turned out that the numbered copy of the discussion paper that went missing had been assigned to none other than Finance Committee Chair and NPA Mayoral candidate Peter Ladner. Just as Ladner started to cry foul, Vision Vancouver’s Raymond Louie threatened to sue everybody except Santa Claus over an unattributed report on Global Television that it was he who made the document disappear.

Lost in all the screaming and yelling have been all the other issues that affect Vancouver. While both mayoral candidates and their respective parties both agree that homelessness is the number one priority facing the city, neither side had a chance to make their positions clear to the electorate before the loan guarantee hullabaloo.

Other issues that were not discussed but will be white-hot topics of contention during this term will be the final preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics. And then as though that won’t be contentious enough- it will also be in this term that Vancouver is actually going to play host to these games. Council better be ready for the onslaught of complaints from local residents concerning traffic, hotel vacancy rates, rents, and general disruption of everybody’s precious little worlds here in Lotusland.

Former mayor and Premier of the province Gordon Campbell can’t seem to keep his hand out of the civic arena either. Now that he has lost his ally, outgoing mayor Sam Sullivan, it is quite possible that Grandpa Gordo will start fishing around, stirring the pot that much more. Campbell would do well to stay out of the City’s business.

And so would Robertson do well to stay out of provincial affairs. Vancouver civic elections are often referenda on the provincial government’s performance but this time it doesn’t look like it was. Robertson, a former opposition MLA in the Legislature will have to manage expectations that he will want to pick fights with the BC Liberals when there needs to be continued good relations that front.

It’s good to know that there are points of common interest between the civic parties. Hopefully, our new mayor will be able to bring the council together to peaceably complete the financial arrangements surrounding the Olympic Village and get on with the business of making Vancouver a more liveable city- especially for the homeless.

There has been too much bickering on Vancouver City Council for too long. Now that the election is behind us it’s time for our councillors to grow up and get things done. After all, that’s what we’ve elected them to do.


It's time to hold your nose

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Something really stinks at City Hall. And out of this pile of stinking manure we have to choose our future for the next three years.

The smell can be overwhelming when the mayor, two past mayors, and the Chair of the Finance Committee who is a mayor-wannabe, close ranks and agree that taxpayers should be kept in the dark about their money.

All four men represent the three governing political parties that got us into this mess. Anybody who thought they’d come out against these sorts deals should give their heads a shake.

Our most recent past-mayor, elected as a COPE mayor turned VISION mayor, is now a senator. So much for accountability. Larry Campbell knows who to ignore to get what he wants. Now that he’s a senator, those he can most afford to ignore voters since I don’t know too many senators who would risk their life-long powdered butts for the electorate.

For Sam Sullivan, one of Vancouver’s leading candidates for the ‘Demagogue of the Year’ award, to side against the public’s right to know comes as no surprise. Indeed, given that he’s the one that took the council in-camera to consider this $100,000,000.00 gift to the developer, he’d be beyond hypocritical if he were to turn around and agree to opening the process up to the light of day.

For Philip Owen to have come out of private life to weigh in on this fiasco is a bit of a surprise if not a serious disappointment. For the NPA to be reaching back to a leader they formerly repudiated underscores how desperate they are to save their collective political skin. What has Philip to gain from coming out of private life? Perhaps to save his own legacy?

Peter Ladner, asserting that he was framed, insisting that the city is losing millions while political posturing goes on, is desperate to get this flaming file off his desk. But he’s just adding gasoline to that fire by saying last week that the property endowment fund was able to carry this extra burden only to say this week that there is no liquidity in the fund at all. This, from the Chair of the Finance Committee.

Just like John “The Fundamentals of the Economy are Strong” McCain a month before the US stock market went to Hell in a Hand basket, I seriously doubt that Ladner has a complete grasp of the financial picture of the city. And now he wants to be mayor.

We should not be so naive as to believe that the city cannot have secret negotiations. What should concern us, however, is that only with the shining of light on this one case, other liabilities have become better known. Like another $390,000,000.00 loan guarantee to the same New York finance company. At this rate, it’s starting to look like the City of Vancouver is a joint-partner alongside the US Treasury Department in bankrolling Wall Street.

So let the politicians throw mud at each other. It’s time for us grown-ups to make a decision and to cast our vote. For the City of Vancouver’s ballot we should aim for a balance: a number of veterans and a few newcomers to city council. Gregor Robertson as Mayor, and a couple of Vision Vancouver candidates, such as Tim Stevenson and Raymond Louie. Robertson’s judgement may have been clouded over his fare evasion issue but like it or not, he’s as much an outsider as we are going to get in this election.

As for the capital expenditures, Vancouverites should vote a firm NO to all of them. It’s time there was real accountability at City Hall and throwing good money after bad to this bunch of children who seemingly couldn’t manage an allowance from their parents should not be the ones in charge of another $100,000,000 of our money for capital expenditures. At least not until the Olympic Village disaster is accounted for to the satisfaction of the voters, citizens and taxpayers of this fair city.

And once our councillors believe they have cleaned up the way City Hall does business, they can call for a plebiscite to approve the extra capital expenditures. Like an interim performance report card, it would be a decent referendum on whether we citizens think our politicians have cleaned up their act enough to once again deserve our confidence.